The Melbourne Storm are, without a doubt, the NRL's most consistent team.

This is a system who haven't missed the finals except for when they weren't allowed to play them in the best part of two decades.

Craig Bellamy has time and time again proven himself to be the NRL's best coach, building discarded talent into stars and ensuring his squad continues in the right direction.

Some have suggested the Storm's grade fadeout could begin again this year, although people have been making the same noises for the best part of a decade without it happening.

If they didn't fall apart when Cameron Smith finally hung up the boots, it's difficult to suggest they might be about to do so this season, even despite a heap of experience disappearing outside of their forward pack.

Some solid recruitment will be one factor the Storm can hang their hat on, but they will be hoping for an as clean run in the injury department as possible with visions of returning to the top four this season after their first-week finals loss to the Canberra Raiders at home last season.

Here is how they will line up in 2023.

Recruitment report

Ins: Joe Chan (Catalan Dragons, 2025), Eliesa Katoa (New Zealand Warriors, 2024), Aaron Pene (New Zealand Warriors, 2024), Tariq Sims (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2023)

Outs: Jesse Bromwich (The Dolphins), Kenneath Bromwich (The Dolphins), Cooper Johns (Manly Sea Eagles), Felise Kaufusi (The Dolphins), Brandon Smith (Sydney Roosters), Tyson Smoothy (Brisbane Broncos)

Re-signed: Grant Anderson (2023), Tom Eisenhuth (2024), Jack Howarth (2027), Jahrome Hughes (2026), Dean Ieremia (2023), George Jennings (2023), Tui Kamikamica (2025), Trent Loiero (2025), Alec MacDonald (2025), Tepai Moeroa (2023), Cameron Munster (2027), Jayden Nikorima (2023), Justin Olam (2026), Marion Seve (2024), Reimis Smith (2024), Christian Welch (2026)

Off-contract end 2023: Grant Anderson, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Cole Geyer, Jordan Grant, Dean Ieremia, George Jennings, Josh King, Tepai Moeroa, Jayden Nikorima, Tariq Sims, Will Warbrick

Full squad

Grant Anderson, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Joe Chan, Xavier Coates, Tom Eisenhuth, Harry Grant, Jordan Grant, Jack Howarth, Jahrome Hughes, Dean Ieremia, George Jennings, Tui Kamikamica, Eliesa Katoa, Josh King, Trent Loiero, Alec MacDonald, Nick Meaney, Tepai Moeroa, Cameron Munster, Jayden Nikorima, Justin Olam, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Aaron Pene, Jonah Pezet, Marion Seve, Tariq Sims, Reimis Smith, Will Warbrick, Christian Welch, Tyran Wishart

Development players: Sualuavi Fa'alogo, Cole Geyer, Tristan Powell

NRL Rd 25 - Rabbitohs v Dragons

Who plays where?


There is little doubt that when he is fit, Ryan Papenhuyzen will slot straight into the fullback jumper in the Victorian capital. The question, of course, is how long that will take.

Best guesses right now stem anywhere from Round 6 onwards, with Papenhuyzen himself labelling a Round 6 return as 'ambitious.'

Still, the Storm will not rush him back, and will want him ready to go at the business end of the season.

In the meantime, that will likely leave first-choice winger Nick Meaney in the fullback jumper, with the former Canterbury Bulldogs' backline utility doing a superb job there last year.

Tyran Wishart, who will likely be the bench utility, can also play at the back, while the Storm also have young gun development player Sualauvi Fa'alogo, who seems destined to be upgraded any day now after impressive form during the pre-season challenge.


As mentioned already, Nick Meaney will claim one wing spot when he isn't needed at the back, with the ex-Bulldog playing the bulk of his football there.

He will be joined on the other side of the park by Queensland Maroons representative Xavier Coates, who had a wonderful first season in the Victorian capital after leaving the Brisbane Broncos.

The back-up in the outside backs at Melbourne has taken a hit with the ACL injury to Dean Ieremia, who will now miss the entire season.

That brings former Rugby Sevens star Will Warbrick, as well as George Jennings, right into the mix for game time, although Jennings won't be fit until at least Round 4.

Grant Anderson, who broke onto the scene during the second half of last year, is also in the Top 30.

NRL Rd 1 - Wests Tigers v Storm


The centres, like the wingers, are easy selections at full strength, with Justin Olam and Reimis Smith to take the mantle.

Like the wingers though, there are fitness issues. Smith hasn't played since early last year although should be fit for Round 1, while Olam has suffered a forearm injury and won't play for at least the first month of the new season.

Like on the wing, Anderson is a chance to feature, particularly early with Marion Seve also out injured to start the new season.

The other option at centre for the Storm is young gun Jack Howarth, who is yet to make his NRL debut, but simply can't be far away after signing a five-year extension with the club ahead of 2022.


The halves are the easiest part of this team to pick. Cameron Munster, who re-signed with the club after widespread interest over the off-season, and Jahrome Hughes, who has quietly become one of the best and most consistent number seven's in the game, will take the important creative roles.

That's not to say the Storm don't have back-up, although that is minimised after Cooper Johns made his exit to join the Manly Sea Eagles over the off-season.

Wishart, who can play multiple positions, is one option, while we saw Nick Meaney in the halves at times during the 2022 campaign.

It's Jonah Pezet who should be garnering the most excitement from fans though, with the young under-19 State of Origin representative rated as one of the best young halves in the game.

Jayden Nikorima is the other option capable of playing in the halves.

Melbourne Storm Training Session

Middle forwards

The Storm have lost plenty of experience in the middle third for the 2023 season, with Jesse Bromwich and Brandon Smith departing for the Dolphins and Sydney Roosters respectively.

Aaron Pene and Tariq Sims - who is predominantly an edge forward but can also play in the middle - after the key recruits in this area for the Storm, although they will also be relying on the other players already at the club in a large capacity.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Tui Kamikamica were both excellent for the club last year, and it's expected that they will once again start. The Kiwi prop out of Wellington will play in the front-row, while Kamikamica is expected to wear the 13.

Josh King could also yet factor at 13, as could Alec MacDonald.

The other starter though will be club captain Christian Welch, who missed most of 2022 with an Achilles injury, but is now back to full fitness and will be relied upon to churn out big numbers this year.

In addition to King and MacDonald who will miss the 13, Melbourne could also turn to the likes of Jordan Grant and Aaron Pene throughout the course of the year.


Harry Grant is one of the top three hookers in the game, and will aim to hang onto that status throughout 2022 as he wears the number nine for Melbourne.

This is the year for Grant to shine if there ever has been one following the departure of his deputy Brandon Smith to the Roosters. In essence, it means he will start every week, and is no longer splitting responsibilities for the role.

Wishart will be the predominant back-up option in the Victorian capital, while Jayden Nikorima and young development option Cole Geyer could also slot in.


The Storm will take a whole new second-row picture into 2023. Both Kenneath Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi have departed for the Dolphins, leaving a mix of recruits and young guns vying for spots.

They aren't short on depth in the position either.

Eliesa Katoa, who has made the switch from the Warriors, could turn out to be one of the buys of the season, while Tariq Sims is at the club.

Katoa will start, but we are suggesting that Sims won't, with Trent Loiero to make the step into the permanent first-grade side instead.

Joe Chan, formerly at Catalans, Jack Howarth, Tom Eisenhuth and Tepai Moeroa are the other second-row options at the club.


The bench will feature Tyran Wishart as the utility, backed up by three forwards.

It's clear that Sims, with his versatility to play on either the edge or in the middle, will be there, while Josh King, who had a superb year last year, will also take a spot.

That leaves just one place on the bench, and while young guns like Howarth will play at some point this year, Alec MacDonald takes that particular spot in this best 17.

Melbourne Storm best 17 for 2023

1. Ryan Papenhuyzen
2. Nick Meaney
3. Justin Olam
4. Reimis Smith
5. Xavier Coates
6. Cameron Munster
7. Jahrome Hughes
8. Christian Welch
9. Harry Grant
10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
11. Eliesa Katoa
12. Trent Loiero
13. Tui Kamikamica
14. Tyran Wishart
15. Tariq Sims
16. Josh King
17. Alec MacDonald